Life-changing smartwatch for the blind hits Kenyan market

Persons living with disability are set to benefit from new innovation and knowledge sharing collaboration between Kenya and South Korea.

The collaboration is already yielding results with the recent launch of a smartwatch for the blind.

The high-tech watch was one of the key attractions at the just concluded Nairobi Innovation week, a brainchild of the University of Nairobi.

The watch, which is a product of South Korean firm Dot Incorporation is a braille smartwatch according to the company’s Director of Social Impact Ah Rum Choi.

"Using this watch, the blind and visually impaired can read all their notifications on their smartphones such as M-Pesa and text messages,” he says.

The Korean company is collaborating with mobile service provider Safaricom to raise awareness about the phone and enhance access to the technology among the visually impaired in the country.

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“That has been transformational in terms of people who couldn’t initially read SMSs. Now they are able to interact and get SMS interactions from their smartwatches,” says Isaac Gachugu, acting head of M-Pesa product development at Safaricom.

The innovation is expected to impact the manufacturing sector in Kenya positively.

"Based on our memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Union of The Blind, they’ll help us to build not only an assembly line but also a factory here in Kenya. So that through Kenya, we can export the braille product to Europe and other African regions and even India," added Choi.

Dot Incorporation was among nine firms at the Nairobi Innovation week sponsored by the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra). The event ran between June 12 and 13.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru hailed the innovations at the event. "If you have an innovation that can work for the government, you bring it to the white box and we will see how best we can work with you, how it can fit into any of our current,” said Mucheru.

Among other notable technologies on show at the fete included the Geni Robot that teaches coding through the use of robotics. The event also provided an opportunity for Kenyan start-ups to sign partnership deals with their Korean counterparts. 

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Persons living with disabilityNairobi Innovation weekKenya Union of The BlindDot Incorporation